But the exploitation flick that will hit theaters is not the one Schrader had in mind. Editing room disagreements took Schrader off the movie. But he cannot discuss it due to the usual contractual non-disparagement agreements that artists have to sign these days.
So Schrader has taken to Facebook, posting his official “Dying of the Light” poster featuring him, Cage, Anton Yelchin, and executive producer Nic Winding Refn (who was going to direct until Harrison Ford fell out), wearing T-shirts sporting the non-disclosure agreement. Schrader writes:
“We lost the battle. “Dying of the Light,” a film I wrote and directed, was taken away from me, reedited, scored and mixed without my input. Yesterday Grindstone (a division of Lionsgate) released the poster and the trailer. They are available on line. Here we are, Nick Cage, Anton Yelchin, Nic Refn and myself, wearing our “non-disparagement” T shirts. The non-disparagement clause in an artist’s contract gives the owners of the film the right to sue the artist should the owner deem anything the artist has said about the film to be “derogatory.” I have no comment on the film or others connected with the picture.”
That’s why so few people ever protest when they are treated badly. Unfortunately, we will never see Schrader’s cut, even though the New York Film Festival wanted to show the film. Why can’t he take his name off the movie? There used to be the option of going with an Alan Smithee credit, which seems to have become more difficult to do since the producers negotiated an agreement that now requires a rather labyrinthine process.
I called Schrader, who reminded me that he can’t talk about the film. Having financed “The Canyons” via Kickstarter, he’s now embracing new media, writing a web series. “That’s the future,” he says, “‘La Dolce Vita’ in ten ten-minute segments. ‘La Dolce Vita’ is a web series, full of people that come and go and don’t come back, it’s episodes. That’s how quickly everything is changing. It’s a new form of storytelling. I enjoyed writing it a lot.”
Finally it’s too bad that in cases like “Dying of the Light,” producers can sell a movie as a Paul Schrader film when they didn’t allow him to make one.